Monday, October 8, 2012

On Freecycling, and Healthy Pumpkin Pie Dip

I am the first to admit it: I have my father's frugal genes.

I hate being in debt.  I like a good bargain.  But I'm not a coupon shopper; rather than buying something at a discount, I will talk myself out of needing it or wanting it at all.  My husband often jokes that our relationship defies traditional gender conventions: he urges me to go buy myself some clothes, and I urge him to go buy a motorcycle.

The effects of my genes are further complicated--or perhaps even amplified--by a borderline obsessive desire to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  I'm the person who digs plastic bottles and toilet paper rolls from the garbage.  I save tissue paper and bags and ribbons from presents, to use again.  I write on the back of my shopping lists.

Which is why I love Freecycle.

If you've never Freecycled before, it works like this: you join a group in your region (a town, a county, even a workplace) where people post classifieds divided into three categories: OFFER, WANTED, and TAKEN.  The categories are self-explanatory.  People who want to give something away post it as an "offer."  Interested people contact the poster anonymously through the site.  The poster responds to the Freecycler of choice (usually the first one to claim the item) with information about location for pickup, and the Freecycler goes to pick up said item.  Quite often the item is left on the porch or in a mailbox or on a doorstep.  Sometimes the items are small: holiday decorations, lamps, salt and pepper shakers, DVDs.  Sometimes the items are large: exercise equipment, laptop computers, etc.

Though I already have standing arrangements to pass down my kids' clothing, I've been Freecycling a lot more lately, trying to find homes for things we don't need (we recently gave away N's pack and play, and crib, and some toys, for example), and trying to find things I do need that others might not.  And one of the things I could use are some new fall/winter clothes.

Don't get me wrong.  We are not impoverished, and my husband has encouraged me to go shopping.  He doesn't understand my fascination with, as he puts it, "clothes you find on the side of the road."  I joke that at least I haven't yet found a dress at the dump, as his aunt did for her daughter's wedding.  But I'm also aware that I'm not currently adding income to our household, and I hate buying something new that would be perfectly good used.

So I jumped when I saw the post.
OFFER: Large bag of women's clothes.  Most size M and some S.  Tank tops, long sleeved shirts, pants, shorts, a few gym clothes.

It was in a town about 15 minutes' drive away.  Totally doable.  I emailed the poster and said I'd be happy to come by if she didn't have any takers yet.  To my delight, she informed me that I "won," and that she'd leave the bag outside for me.

After I put the kids to bed, I left S. holding down the fort, and ventured out.  The house wasn't too hard to find, though it was dark, and I walked up to the door, squinting to see if I could locate said bag.  In the dim light, I made it out, sitting on a chair.  Much larger than I'd imagined.  And, picking it up, I thought, heavier, too.  WOW!

I drove home on winding country roads, listening to the radio, enjoying the crisp fall air, feeling extremely satisfied with myself, looking forward to the surprise of unpacking the bag.

And I was not disappointed; it was like Christmas!  What great taste this woman had!  What perfect colors!  I began to sort things into piles of "RIGHT SIZE" and "NO WAY IN HELL CAN I WEAR THIS," already thinking about how I was going to keep the cycle going with the second category. Wouldn't it be great to bring some of these to the next women's clothing swap at church?  Small, medium.  Small.  Small.  Medium, but ... er, nope, that doesn't fit.  Small.  Medium that really ought to be marked as small.  Medium that is skin-tight.  Suddenly the "NO WAY IN HELL" pile was much larger than the "RIGHT SIZE" pile.  And then, it had only two things in it.  Well, shit.  So much for Christmas.

I frowned, poking and prodding at my belly, which is a bit doughier than it used to be.  I still love Freecycle, though.  At least I'll have some great things to bring to the next clothing swap.

Maybe I'd better lay off the cake and eat more of this.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Dip
Remember that really bad-for-you dip with the cream cheese and powdered sugar?  Try this instead.  Much more satisfying, and absolutely good for you.

1 c. canned or fresh pureed pumpkin
1 c. plain nonfat greek yogurt (vegans can also use coconut greek yogurt here)
1/2 t. to 1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. to 1 t. ginger
dash nutmeg
sweetener of choice: a few drops of stevia, a squirt of honey or agave
apples for dipping (though you can also use graham crackers or animal crackers or gingersnaps)

Stir together all of the ingredients except the apples.

Add spice and sweetener as necessary.  Serve with apples to dip.
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  1. Lay off the cake, if you want. Or don't. Caitlin Moran says your not fat if you can run up three flights of stairs.

    My book club just read her book "How to be a Woman" and we've decided to go on a big shopping spree on Saturday in November while the menfolk watch the kids. (She has a whole chapter on fashion which I think should be required reading.) Once we have a date you should plan to come down. I'm going to put everybody in dressing rooms and then the Nordstroms lady and I will run around finding everyone a perfect outfit.

    Alternately, you can come down any old time and I'll take you to our very helpful thrift shop and put together a dozen outfits for you, if you don't mind trying on clothes in the middle of the store. (The trick is to wear a long flowing skirt and a slim-fitting tank top.)

  2. As the husband "S.", I endorse JeCaThRe's idea. J. also thrives with someone to prod her while shopping and provide fashion feedback with taste.

  3. I think Freecycle is a great idea. I tried to joing but my application was denied. Now I think it's a less great idea; it doesn't seem like something that should be only available to some and not to all. Oh, and it took the two months to get around to rejecting my application.

  4. Great post. I'd heard about Freecycle but had forgotten about it, so you gave me a great reminder. I'll apply today. And I'm going to try the pumpkin dip too. Thank you!

  5. I've been having login issues but I've been reading. Oh man, freecycle, ieeeeeeeeeee!!!

  6. Loving the thought of dipping my apples into pumpkin! 2 of the season's best!

  7. Oh - my son thinks pumpkin is the best food in the world. I'll have to try this dip for him. :-)

  8. That dip looks so yummy.

    I know you are wary of buying new clothes, but what about thrifting? (Someone already mentioned it I see!) I've gotten some super cute vintage sweaters and jackets from our local Salvation Army that have been not only cheap, but environmentally friendly as well. The quality can be much better: handmade wool sweaters instead of mass-manufactured, shipped from who knows where, etc.

  9. AND, you inspired this lengthy what to buy where post, based on advice I was given by an awesome friend. If I lived closer, I would take you shopping. And I would make it FUN, I promise. Cake MIGHT be involved. Just sayin'.

  10. Ha ha ha! I love, love, LOVE freecycle! I read your post out loud to my husband because he's the one who introduced me to this wonderful organization. AND - your story reminds me of a huge box of hangers we gave away once on Freecycle. I have to believe that the people who came to get it were thinking the same as you - much bigger than they expected. It was a TV box full of hangers. They're lucky they had a minivan to haul that thing away!

    "well shit, so much for Christmas" - LMAO over here!

  11. I loved this post. We have freecycle here but had to stop using the name - can't remember why. I rarely go on but get the digest emails.
    Hate clothes shopping, thrift or otherwise, so depressing when the size you think you are never fits and you have to go 2 sizes up

  12. I loved this post when I first read it; it's what got me thinking about writing about dumpster diving. and then telling my mom about it, I had to go find a local Freecycle for her. It didn't work out too well, most recent posts were two months old. But hey, she can keep an eye out.

    Our local Freecycle has turned into a whole bunch of 'in desperate need of playstation 3.' I got too frustrated and gave up on them, but my husband still gets the emails and gives or gets every once in a while.

    That pumpkin dip? I think I'd end up using a spoon. I should give it a try anyway. :)

  13. I am the same way. My Hubby is always telling me to go shopping for myself, but I never do it. I love hand me downs too. I never buy anything for myself, so he always does. I am going to have to look into this freecycle! I can't wait to try that pumpkin dip! Loving everything pumpkin right now!


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